While brand identity was once considered a viable marketing technique solely for product-based businesses, it has rapidly evolved to include service firms as well. And while many law firms were initially reluctant to jump on the bandwagon, today, branding has become a central concept of most managing partners’ marketing strategies.
Here are four guidelines for developing a successful branding strategy that will best highlight the salient characteristics of your firm.
1. Communicate a Common Culture
It is important for your law firm to have a shared vision — a culture of commonalities that is translatable to potential clients. Since partners often operate independently within a firm, demonstrating such a consensus can be challenging. However, it is a crucial component of successful branding. The firm should communicate a cohesive personality that offers tangible benefits to clients and prospects.
In order to flesh out this vision, it is advisable to focus on the characteristics that differentiate your firm from others with similar specialties. This distinction separates your firm from the pack, so to speak, and should be easily communicated. Firm partners should be on board with the concept and be able to fully articulate it in meetings with clients and prospects.
2. Identify Firm Values and Long-Term Goals
A good starting point for brainstorming a distinctive vision is often identifying a firm’s long-term goals and underlying values. The values of a firm constitute the strengths of the organization and ultimately drive its objectives and goals. Once identified, they can assist in strategic planning, as well as in the development of a cohesive brand identity.
3. Create a Message About Your Capabilities
In addition to being communicated in verbal interactions, your firm’s shared identity should be the cornerstone of printed marketing materials and website text that is readily available for potential clients. The delineation of the vision of the firm should naturally lead into a discussion of the firm’s capabilities and strengths. Here subtle distinctions can be drawn between competing firms of similar specialties. These unique distinctions, relative to competitors, should be easily identifiable by prospective clients.
Successful branding communicates a firm’s vision and capabilities in a personal way so that potential clients begin to develop an emotional connection that engenders trust. The best branding messages leave an enduring impression — one that potential clients retain long after hearing them.
One way to ensure that a capability and branding message is remembered is to keep it relatively simple. If the written message focuses on a few major factors that set the firm apart, potential clients are far more likely to retain the core concepts than if it is complex and derivative. The message should convey the practical capabilities of the firm, the central concepts of the firm’s vision and the personality of the firm’s partners.
4. Promote Your Brand in the Community
Once a firm has established a branding strategy, the message should not only be communicated directly to clients and prospects but also positioned to reach the broader community as a whole. Encourage partners to accept speaking engagements at business events and be an active part of local activities while representing the firm’s brand. When partners take an active role in community, the firm’s profile can be heightened considerably.
A Message That Packs a Powerful Punch
While branding is initially an esoteric concept, carefully weaving intangible elements together can create the backbone of a powerful marketing strategy. What is your firm all about and what differentiates it from the competition? These are characteristics that leave a lasting positive connection between your firm and potential clients. Once the message reaches the community at large, the identity and “brand” of the firm is woven into the tapestry of the collective consciousness for years to come.
Essential Branding Elements
There are essential components in a successful branding strategy, including:
Differentiation. The most successful branding strategies differentiate a firm from competitors in both capability and personality.
Emotional Connection. Potential clients should make an emotional connection to the firm’s brand and what it has to offer them in the short and long-term.
Positive Connotation. A firm’s vision should be confident and positive, encouraging trust and reliability.
Lasting Impression. The firm’s image should resonate in the minds of clients and prospects. It should also be easily identifiable and unique.
Please contact Judith Barnhard via our online contact form for more information.
Councilor, Buchanan & Mitchell (CBM) is a professional services firm delivering tax, accounting and business advisory expertise throughout the Mid-Atlantic region from offices in Bethesda, MD and Washington, DC.